October 27, 2008

Four Reasons to be Optimistic About French Tourism


Maison de la France, the French Government Tourist Office, is concerned about the declining numbers of international travelers, but optimistic. Here's what their director for the Americas, Jean-Philippe Perol, told a tourism conference after unveiling a new logo and theme for travel to France.

First off, the political landscape will change on November 5th. True, 80 percent of the French support Obama (UPDATE: figure is now 93 percent!!), but it's going to be a fresh start no matter what. People will be more confident (though not necessarily better off) after the elections. And the Bush administration's travel restrictions have, ironically, doubled the number of people with passports, to 82 million.

Second, oil prices are down (which helps the airlines) and exchange rates are more favorable to the dollar.

Third, in times of trouble, travelers go back to basics. The brand, if you will, of France remains positive. Beyond "art of living" it's "art of pleasure."

Fourth, France maintains a close relationship with a strong network of tour operators, the folks who provide the actual travel services.

No doubt about it, 2008 will end up a terrible year for tourism in general. France--the world's most visited country--will see an 8 percent decline in visitors, but still end up with 80 million from around the world, worth $55 billion in foreign revenues. The US accounts for maybe 10 percent, a figure that the French would like to see double by 2010.

More from the annual get together, dubbed French Affairs, as the week progresses.

Posted by Ronald Holden at October 27, 2008 6:21 AM | TrackBack

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